July 4th, 2012
Cincinnati– A pickup basketball game turned ugly, leading to a brawl, shots fired and the death of Corey McGinnis five days after he was shocked with a police Taser.
“He was a father fighting to protect his children,” said McGinnis’ niece, Lisa McGinnis, 32, of Mount Airy. She is acting as the family spokeswoman following Corey McGinnis’ death Sunday at University Hospital. His mother made the gut-wrenching decision to discontinue life-support, Lisa McGinnis said.
Corey McGinnis, 35, of Western Hills, never regained consciousness after he was shocked with a Taser on June 26 after officers from Springfield Township and North College Hill were called to a big fight in Crutchfield Park. “He collapsed right there on the scene,” his niece said.
The death comes after a study released this spring showed a shock from the Taser can provoke cardiac arrest. A spokesman for the devices’ manufacturer, Taser International Inc., said the study examined only a handful of cases and broader conclusions shouldn’t be made from such a small sample. It also comes nearly a year after a teenager was shocked at the University of Cincinnati and later died.
Four of his nine children were there and saw what happened; two of them, boys ages 15 and 16, were involved in the basketball game when their opponents attacked them, she said. They ask, “Why my daddy?” Lisa McGinnis says she cannot answer that.
“We want some answers,” she said, about the events that led to Corey McGinnis being Tased.
It will be weeks, possibly months, before the Hamilton County Coroner makes an official ruling on his cause of death. But relatives say they’re convinced the Taser shock must be to blame for the death of McGinnis, a healthy 35-year-old who exercised regularly.
“We, as people, need to bring some kind of attention to these Tasings because Corey is not the first person to die after being Tased and he won’t be the last unless we do something,” Lisa McGinnis said. “It’s supposed to be a safer alternative, but it’s been shown time and time again that people are dying after being Tased.”
In one recent case that has stirred debate, 18-year-old Everette Howard Jr. died after he was shocked with a Taser on Aug. 6 at the University of Cincinnati. But recently officials said the cause of his death remained undetermined despite an exhaustive investigation.
The Taser devices shock a person with 50,000 volts and are supposed to temporarily immobilize a person’s muscles so police can get control of a suspect.
In the case of Corey McGinnis, his niece says no law-enforcement officials had contacted the family as of Monday evening. Springfield Township police have declined to comment; Enquirer reporters and the North College Hill police chief returned several phone calls to each other but were unable to connect.
Lisa McGinnis said multiple relatives who were at Crutchfield Park on June 26 shared this account with her:
Corey McGinnis and his teenage sons had beaten their opponents in a second game and the opponents didn’t want to pay up and make good on the bets they’d placed on the game. A large fight broke out. Somebody fired shots. Somebody called police. And officers ended up using Tasers on some of the participants.
She doesn’t know what Corey McGinnis may have done to warrant the Taser being used on him, particularly since, according to relatives, he was under attack and had a large knot on his head where one of the basketball opponents had kicked him. That, she says, should have signaled to police that he was a victim, not an instigator. “He did not go looking for trouble,” Lisa McGinnis said.
Reports released so far give few details.
Springfield Township Patrol Officer Ryan Montgomery filed a report saying he and North College Hill officers found three possible suspects at the fight scene and attempted to take them into custody.
Two of the suspects were Tased after refusing to comply with police commands to “get on the ground,” Montgomery’s report said.
Lisa McGinnis says she believes that three men were shocked with Tasers: Corey McGinnis, his nephew, Rayshawn Whitehead, 21, of Avondale, and a stranger who was part of the group that played basketball against Corey McGinnis and his sons.
declined to give the names of his children and said they were born to several different women, and “he was taking care of them.” He worked as a self-employed carpenter and did odd jobs, she said.
Corey McGinnis had faced many misdemeanors for alleged offenses such as disorderly conduct and drug-related charges. He also faced a few felonies. His niece acknowledges he made mistakes but had stayed out of court during the past three years, trying to be a better example to his children.
He regretted having dropped out of Western Hills High School, his niece said, and hoped to work toward earning his general equivalency diploma and becoming a football coach, since his two teen sons play high school football, Lisa McGinnis said.
She was happy to have witnessed one of the proudest days of his life: In May, when his eldest child graduated among the top 10 in her class at Withrow High School. “He said, ‘I never ever touched a diploma, but I’m touching one now,’” Lisa McGinnis recalled Corey McGinnis stating. “I will never forget those words as long as I live.”